Last Sunday a friend and I attempted to take a crack at the Diagonal route on Wallface, which is in the Lake Placid area. The guidebook says that it is about a 6 mile hike in from where we were parking, and then on top of that, a 30 minute approach from “Summit Rock”, which is a lookout that lets you see the entirety of the face.
Wallface is a mile long cliff that climbs 1200′. It is the tallest free climb in the Adirondacks. I saw this as an opportunity to push myself, challenge my skills, and to gain more experience with some exposure. Since I was going with someone who had done a lot more climbing than I had, I was willing to do some multi-pitch that was a little higher grade than I might comfortably lead with so much exposure (5.8). I have led trad routes as high has 5.9, but being so high off the ground can certainly alter one’s perceptions.
We had driven down the night before, and were up before the sun was. In our excitement, and neither of us having been there before, we started down the path.
The wrong path.
This took us about a mile out of our way, and put us leaving the parking lot around 8:40, instead of an hour earlier. Once we were onto the proper path, we traveled quickly. The first half of the journey went swiftly, and in no time we were within two miles of our destination. At this point, we gained a little elevation, and began climbing some very icy slopes which dropped our speed significantly.
Being Canadian, I have the foolish notion that 6 miles is not that far. In my mind, miles and kilometers are not that different, and I think that 6 miles will feel a little longer than 6 km, but it won’t be too bad. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
By the time we reached Summit Rock, I was cooked. It was a beautiful sunny day, and all I wanted was to have a nap. My legs hurt, my back hurt, and the 70 meter rope on my back would not center properly. We arrived at about 11:30. We were expecting to go slow on the climb, probably expecting 4 hours up and down, since we both hadn’t gotten to any multi-pitch in a couple months. That combined with an early sunset this time of year, and the icy slopes, I was feeling off about the post-hike out. Then we noticed the ice at the top of the climb.
The diagonal route runs along a 40 degree diagonal shelf about midway up the cliff. We noticed that ice had already formed at the top of the climb, directly above the shelf. The day was sunny and warm, and ice was already peeling off the wall in other locations.
After everything, we decided not to climb. I wasn’t sure that I could climb and then make it back to the car in the same day, and the ice was a factor that made the whole thing feel bad. One never wants to be the one to say no, but my gut was going crazy. I felt somewhat justified on the hike out when one of the sofa sized pieces of ice landed on the very platform we would have been belaying from, but it was still a bummer to not climb.
Snapped this picture from summit rock. Maybe next year.